For years, nursing homes have operated in isolation with private nursing home residents denied access to routine health services open to others in the community, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy. In our view, this idea of ‘other’ contributed in no small part to the COVID-19 debacle, where the HSE did not view nursing homes as being part of the healthcare system. This was further exacerbated by the general lack of medical equipment in nursing homes.
There is currently no system in place in Ireland that provides a proper assessment tool for residents and no system that allows for the transfer of information between nursing homes and other care facilities such as hospitals. We welcome the recommendations from the Nursing Home Expert panel, especially those relating to the continuation and formalisation of contingency measures, already introduced for the clinical support of nursing homes by the wider health networks and community services. Additionally, we believe that there is an urgent need to establish a Clinical Leadership/Medical Director that would link up all of the services and provide specialist advice for defined areas.